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In LA’s Japanese European diaspora, solidarity for Ukraine


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Countless numbers of miles from in which they have been born, Russian Anastasia Shostak and Ukrainian Andrew Berezin made a friendship in Los Angeles simply because of their shared Jewish faith.

Now they have nevertheless additional in widespread: Both equally are feverishly working to get their people out of their respective homelands and into Israel immediately after Russia introduced its war versus Ukraine, and the two turned out around the weekend in their adopted hometown to protest the invasion. 

Russina citizen Katrina Repina, right, holds a sign that reads:

Russina citizen Katrina Repina, ideal, retains a indicator that reads: “I am Russian, No War. I’m sorry,” as she expresses her assist to Ukraine in Santa Monica’s Third Avenue Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.
(WHD Picture/Damian Dovarganes)

Los Angeles is household to several from the Jap European diaspora, a location where by Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Romanians, Georgians, Moldovians, Estonians and Lithuanians often pray, function, shop and consume alongside one another. The war induced by Russia’s invasion has resulted in raw and unpleasant feelings in the pews of shared residences of worship and in the broader community. 

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Berezin, a program engineer, reported that for yrs the group has been united by common bonds of faith, culture and historical past, but currently things have felt “odd.”

“We may possibly be from Latvia, Ukraine, Belarus or Moldova, but we’ve regarded as each other brother nations,” he said. “We in no way imagined each and every other as different mainly because of our shared legacy. I experience like now we are pressured to independent. It feels like ‘us’ versus ‘them’ now, and it’s not excellent.”

At Berezin’s urging, his parents and 90-12 months-previous grandmother crammed themselves and prized belongings into a tiny sedan and drove about 1,200 miles to Poland, exactly where they await paperwork to sign up for his sister in Israel.

On Sunday he was just one of hundreds of demonstrators who turned out to wave flags, march and hold vigil in antiwar protests staged in each Hollywood and Santa Monica. 

Shostak was amongst the several Russians who came to include their voices in opposition to their household country’s actions. She and other individuals openly proclaimed their disgust, disappointment and remorse over the invasion. 

A satellite image shows a military convoy near Invankiv, Ukraine February 28, 2022. 

A satellite picture displays a military services convoy close to Invankiv, Ukraine February 28, 2022. 
(axar Technologies/Handout by way of REUTERS )

Shostak, who aids run a application referred to as Caring for Jews in Will need at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, has family members in both of those Russia and Ukraine. She explained she feels “guilty” even although she has never observed eye to eye with the Russian government or President Vladimir Putin. 

“I know (Russians and Ukrainians) are friends below, but deep down there is probably that resentment of your nation attacking my region,” she mentioned. “My place is the aggressor right here. It can be vital for me to get out there and say I aid my Ukrainian brothers and sisters. We will need to say we are not enemies.” 

Like Berezin, Shostak fears for her parents’ safety and is working to get them from Russia to Israel. 

There are also Russians in the group who guidance Putin’s actions, even though they’re usually holding quiet on the issue, cautious to stay clear of offending neighbors with whom they have bonded around the decades. 

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John Khrikyan, who worships along with Ukrainians and counts lots of of them as mates, stated in a cell phone job interview that Putin is justified in attacking what Khrikyan considers an anti-Russian and corrupt governing administration. 

“Traditionally it truly is 1 individuals, just one society and a person nation,” he claimed of Russia and Ukraine. “I think Ukraine should be an unbiased place. But we should really be friends, not enemies.”

“I am very pleased to be Russian,” Khrikyan explained.

At local residences of worship, solidarity with Ukraine was the order of the day Sunday. 

About 50 persons attended a exclusive morning provider at Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a number of miles northwest of downtown LA. Worshipers bowed their heads in prayer, and a several get rid of tears from closed eyes. 

Iryna Hetman-Piatkovska prays for her son who is a soldier in Ukraine during a service for Ukraine at the Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Los Angeles Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.

Iryna Hetman-Piatkovska prays for her son who is a soldier in Ukraine all through a services for Ukraine at the Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Los Angeles Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.
(WHD Picture/Damian Dovarganes)

“I came in this article to present my assist for Ukraine,” reported Liana Ghica, who dressed in the blue, yellow and red of her native Romania for the celebration. “This is not just about Ukraine but the long run of our globe, our freedom and the potential of our youngsters. It really is about human rights.”

In an psychological sermon, the Rev. Vasile Sauciur denounced the invasion as “insanity” and “evil.” He likened it to the biblical struggle of David in opposition to Goliath and stated the underdog Ukraine will arise victorious, as David did. 

“(Ukraine) would not have a lot, but we have the suitable goal, the appropriate motive,” explained Sauciur, who was born in Romania but has numerous Ukrainian family users and identifies as a Ukrainian priest. “I hope our great neighbors support us and try to remember that this pestilence can go over and above Ukraine. Superior people today will have to stand up for what is appropriate.” 

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Some at the service have been praying for cherished types serving in Ukraine’s armed forces. 

Iryna Hetman-Piatskova cradled her cellphone in her palm as she seemed at a photograph of her son in fatigues, despatched from the front lines. 

“My plea is to the mothers of Russia to phone their sons back residence, to stop the war,” she claimed tearfully. “From 1 mom to an additional, talk to your sons to halt attacking.” 

And Natalia Blanco recalled speaking this weekend with her brother, who is in the Ukrainian army.

“He explained to me he is making an attempt to be powerful, but it truly is hard to see other soldiers dying,” she reported, keeping back tears.

A view of damage due to armed conflict between Russia, Ukraine in Donetsk region under the control of pro-Russian separatists, eastern Ukraine on February 28, 2022.

A perspective of destruction thanks to armed conflict concerning Russia, Ukraine in Donetsk area under the handle of pro-Russian separatists, japanese Ukraine on February 28, 2022.
(Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency through Getty Photos)

Lana Worth, a to start with-era Russian American who counts the two Russians and Ukrainians between her household, explained she has been torn and will not would like to consider sides.

“Do I dislike my correct hand or left hand?” she stated. “Ours is a tiny world. Hating just about every other is not an choice.”

At the Santa Monica protest, held a couple blocks from the Pacific Ocean on the city’s Third Road Promenade, demonstrators gathered in the afternoon. 

Katrina Repina held her infant daughter in just one hand and a signal in the other that study: “I am Russian, I’m sorry.”

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“I really don’t assistance Putin,” she stated. “My heart bleeds when I see all the news. I really feel the Ukrainian people’s suffering, and I would like I can consider that pain absent.”

Repina came to the protest with Hanna Husakova, a Ukrainian. The two related via Instagram, and popular bonds of language and lifestyle had been more robust than the war concerning their nations around the world. 

Members of the Ukrainian community and parishioners pray during a Mass service at Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Los Angeles Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.

Users of the Ukrainian group and parishioners pray through a Mass services at Saint Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Los Angeles Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.
(WHD Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

“Katrina requested me if I required to be her good friend. She asked me, ‘Do you hate me simply because I am Russian?'” Husakova claimed. “I claimed, ‘Absolutely not.’ What is actually going on right here is concerning governments, not individuals.”

Jonas Gavelis, a Lithuanian native who moved to Santa Monica 5 months in the past soon after successful the environmentally friendly card lottery, donned a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “I’m not Ukrainian but I help Ukraine.” He apprehensive that the fighting could spill beyond borders, and his house country could be upcoming in Putin’s sights. 

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“Ukraine has supported Lithuania when we required them,” Gavelis said. “Now, it is our transform to display our assistance.”

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